George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Philip Schuyler, 12 October 1779

To Philip Schuyler

Head Quarters West point 12th Octobr 1779

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 6th which reached me yesterday, gives me hopes of the pleasure of seeing you in a day or two.1

General Sullivan must from his situation have been totally unacquainted with the circumstances of the Mohawks families at the lower Castle,2 his motive undoubtedly was to remove a set of people who, he had reason to beleive, were unfreindly and dangerous. But as the public faith has been pledged for their remaining there unmolested, and you say good consequences have resulted to the neighbourhood from the measure hitherto, I see no objection to their being suffered to return home again—I will inform Genl Sullivan, upon his return, of the reasons which induced the superseding his orders to Colo. Gansevoort.3 As to the other point—The treaty with the Cayugas—I can only give my private opinion, which coincides with yours, so far as it respects the policy of making a general peace with them and the other Indians of the Six Nations—But as to particular terms I think it will be proper for you and the Gentlemen in the Commission to take the directions of Congress, should they incline to an accomodation When I have the pleasure of seeing you we can talk over this matter more at large.4 I am with the greatest Regard Dear Sir Yours sincerely.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 153; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 170; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW addressed this letter to Schuyler or, in his absence, Volckert Pieterse Douw. Douw forwarded it to Schuyler on 22 Oct. (see Duow to Schuyler, 22 Oct., and GW to Peter Gansevoort, 25 Oct., both NN).

1GW’s aide Alexander Hamilton wrote to James Duane on 1 Oct.: “The General is happy in the hopes you give him of a speedy visit from Genl Schuyler & yourself, & orders me to present his respects to both” (Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:194–95). Schuyler was at headquarters from mid-October through early November (see Gerlach, Proud Patriot, description begins Don R. Gerlach. Proud Patriot: Philip Schuyler and the War of Independence, 1775–1783. Syracuse, N.Y., 1987. description ends 381).

2GW is referring to Tiononderoga, a Mohawk settlement at Fort Hunter, N.Y., that was often called the Lower Castle.

3GW is referring to Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s orders to Col. Peter Gansevoort to destroy Tiononderoga and capture its inhabitants (see Sullivan to GW, 28 Sept.). For Gansevoort’s explanation of these events, see Gansevoort to GW, 8 October. GW soon had to restate his orders, telling Gansevoort directly that he meant this letter as a “full order” for the release of the Mohawks (see GW to Gansevoort, 25 Oct., NN).

4In a letter to Congress of 17 Oct., Schuyler, at West Point, requested instructions for these negotiations (DNA:PCC, item 153; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates, description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends 14:234).

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